Most of you, but hopefully not all of you, have a desk bound job.
Which means that most of you, but hopefully not all of you, do not sit properly at your desk.
Check yourself right now ! Whether you are reading this post on your phone, computer, I pad.... Now Straighten up. Sit tall, bring your shoulder back and down, chest out and take a nice deep breath in.
It feels easier to breathe right !
That is because when you are sitting down incorrectly, you compress your rib cage. It cannot inflate and deflate properly, your diaphragm can not fully contract and relax and you are not able to breath properly.
So if you spend hours on end in your chair at work in the same incorrect position, you get improper breathing mechanics ! for the whole day !
lets keep the breathing mechanics for another blog post, and let's focus on good old posture today.
Your natural back is shaped like an snake with a multiple concave and convex curves called kyphotic and lordotic curve.
This is the way nature arranges the body for maximum efficiency of movement, weight distribution and structural soundness.
The spine is surrounded by muscles, ligament, fascia. One of its main functions is to protect the Spinal Cord (which in addition to the brain make-up the Central Nervous System).
The spine is very solid, flexible and complex, but not invulnerable. Muscle tension, vertebrae position, bad posture, wrong movement patterns... can throw the spine out of balance and create compensation patterns, muscle tightness/inhibition, tingling...
Now, lets take a look at this guy... does that look familiar ? Maybe it's the way your colleague, your boss, of even you sit at the desk.
Notice the (horrible) way he sits at his desk. The main area of tension are visible even to an untrained eye. You do not need to know anything about body mechanics to understand that that position will create some unnecessary tension in the body.
Rounded back, collapsed shoulders, over-extended neck....
This is the typical seating pattern that desk worker adopt. It's a lazy posture. Fatigue, Boredom , gravity (and laziness) tends to make us collapse forward, onto yourself.
It is a very simple position to hold, because it does not require nearly as much muscle activation as a "good" posture does (It feels comfortable, but sometimes comfortable ain't healthy.)
This type of position can create tension in the chest, back, shoulders, neck, low back...
Symptoms of bad posture can be, muscular and joint inflammation/pain, tingling in arms/forearms/hands, headaches, neck pain..... the list goes on and on
The next thing to remember is that humans, are NOT meant to sit down all day long. Being in a static posture is not good for the body. We are meant to run, throw things, climb, roll around...not type numbers in an excel sheet, coding all day long, or writing blog post about posture for hours!!
Water, without any motion, left in a pond becomes greens, gunky, nasty coloured. A mountain river, with constant motion tends to have clear, sparkly water
As Mr Lee famously said, "Be like water"
If unfortunately, you have muscular/joint aches and pain from sitting at work already, then try theses little tricks, they might help you manage your niggles (or simply go see you Therapist, who is trained to deal with these type of issues ).
As we discussed before, the typical desk work posture is a "collapsed"posture.
- Shoulders rolls in
- Back arches forward
- Lower cervical spine ,aka neck, push forward (but upper cervical is going the over way, overextended)
- etc (there are way more example but let's keep it short)
A great way to help tension, is to adopt a position which gets the body in the exact opposite of the "collapsed" posture. There is a great way to do it : the Cobra pose.
Notice how this is the complete opposite to the sitting down position.
This pose will give anybody who sits down for long periods of time, an amazing stretch.
(If you do not know how to perform this pose safely, go to a yoga class or ask a qualified instructor first.)
Self massage is also a good way to get rid of some muscle tension.
With the help of soft/medium/hard balls, sticks, foam roller.... you can get into area of muscular tension, and release them.
Keep on checking the blog as i will dedicated my next post to self massage techniques and how to release muscular tension/pain on your own !!
Finally, let's talk prevention.
Prevention is the solution.
Good posture at the desk, screen at eye level, foot rest, comfortable yet well structured chair, wrist rest, proper keyboard, standing up often, getting some water, stretch, move your arms, rotate your hips, ....These are some of the easy fixes that can be applied to the desk lifestyle.